Bulgarian Policies on the Republic of Macedonia

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Bulgarian Policies on the Republic of Macedonia  (2008) 
Lyubomir Ivanov et al.
Published by the Manfred Wörner Foundation in March 2008. 80 pp. Trilingual publication in Bulgarian, Macedonian and English.


Recommendations on the development
of good neighbourly relations
following Bulgaria’s accession to the EU
and in the context of NATO and EU enlargement
in the Western Balkans

Developed under the guidance of Lyubomir Ivanov,
with the participation and contribution of
Z. Andonova, P. Atanasov, S. Barakov, B. Bobev, G. Daskalov,
A. Dimitrov, B. Dimitrov, E. Ekov, S. Eldarov, Z. Georgiev,
S. Hadjitodorov, V. Iliev, Z. Ilieva, N. Kolev, K. Kossev,
M. Milanov, I. Mitov, P. Pantev, G. Papakochev, A. Parvanov,
A. Popov, V. Rachev, N. Stoyanova, V. Tekelov, M. Traykov,
et al.

Sofia, January 2007 / January 2008

... it is difficult to explain to the world why we have problems
with almost all [of the neighbouring states]
while they do not have so many with each other.
(Utrinski Vesnik – Skopje, 12/31/07)

1. Fundamentals

As a Balkan state and an EU and NATO member, and bordering
the Western Balkans, Bulgaria, along with Greece, has the specific
responsibility of guaranteeing that the states aspiring to EU and NATO
membership in the region attain modern European standards of good
neighbourly relations. Bulgaria also needs to set its relations with the
Republic of Macedonia on a sound and sustainable basis not only in
the best interests of Bulgaria’s own citizens, but no less of the citizens
of the Republic of Macedonia, and for the successful development of
the Balkan region as a modern and prosperous part of a United Europe.

Bulgaria recently made two particularly important steps in this
direction, which marked the end of one and the beginning of another
stage in its bilateral relations with the Republic of Macedonia.

The first step was made in 2006 by Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov
and Foreign Minister Ivaylo Kalfin who unequivocally warned Skopje
that the credit of unconditional support originally extended to the
Republic of Macedonia for its European Union and NATO membership
has been expended, and that future Bulgarian support would depend
on the willingness and success of the Republic of Macedonia in
adopting and pursuing a policy of good neighbourly relations.

The second major step was made during the visit of US President
George W. Bush to Sofia in 2007, when both President Parvanov and
Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev advised him of the failure of the
Republic of Macedonia to follow a good neighbour policy.

Articulated at the highest level, these political messages require the
elaboration in greater detail of the full range of policies related to
Bulgaria’s bilateral relations with the Republic of Macedonia, and
their development in the new circumstances. This paper aims to
formulate some possible starting points for such policies, putting
them forward for expert analysis, political decision making and prompt
implementation, along with due public debate and participation.

Bulgarian attitudes and views on the complex set of issues related to
Bulgarian policy on the Republic of Macedonia, as well as the relevant
aspects of Bulgaria’s relations with third states, especially Greece,
Albania, Kosovo and Serbia, were formed at various times in history,
and thus are the product of various historical realities. As a result, these
attitudes and views are inherently contradictory, effectively hindering
any attempt to pursue consistent and proactive policies. Moreover,
the present conceptual framework fails to reflect the most recent,
post-January 1, 2007 situation in which Bulgaria is a member of both
NATO and the European Union, while the Republic of Macedonia is not.
Owing to these circumstances, the present analysis and the ensuing
policy recommendations are based on a new interpretation and re-
evaluation, which requires new approaches in certain aspects.

It should be noted that the position of Skopje enjoys better exposure
and audibility than the Bulgarian one among decision makers and the
general public in Europe, the United States and Canada. Indeed, during
the last two decades the Republic of Macedonia has been building
its arguments and international public relations efforts on Yugoslav
propaganda disseminated in the course of forty-odd years, while
during that time Bulgaria remained virtually silent and refrained from
seeking support for its position from other nations. Macedonism also
benefits from public sympathy in Europe and North America towards
the small post-Yugoslav republic, viewed both as an offspring and to
some extent a victim of the Cold War victors.

The present pre-accession status of the Republic of Macedonia vis-аvis
the EU and NATO offers a unique window of opportunity to set the
country’s relations with Bulgaria on a stable and positive basis of good
neighbourliness. If this opportunity is missed, Sofia would only find a
fairly modest set of means at its disposal to further its cause, while the
capabilities of Skopje would expand. Furthermore, even the strongest
arguments of Bulgaria would then become intellectually and morally
deficient; for while the silence and passivity of this country in the past
could find some explanation (if not justification), the ability to pursue
a policy of good neighbourly relations is an important criterion for
both NATO and EU accession by candidate states such as the Republic
of Macedonia, and any further silence on the part of Bulgaria would
be interpreted by our allies in NATO and EU, and in the Republic of
Macedonia itself as condoning and legitimizing policies and practices
that cannot be accepted as good and neighbourly by any selfrespecting

This paper deals mostly with specific problems in the relations
between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, outlining actions
for their sustainable solution, while briefly mentioning a variety of
other relevant measures such as joint infrastructure and other projects
(including those funded by the EU and NATO), Bulgarian investment
in the economy of the Republic of Macedonia, further streamlining
of the procedures for granting Bulgarian citizenship to persons of
Bulgarian origin in Balkan states, or incentives for such persons to study
at Bulgarian universities etc. Such measures can undoubtedly facilitate
the resolution of existing problems, but cannot resolve them alone.

The present report focuses exclusively on Bulgaria’s policies towards the
Republic of Macedonia. Actions and policies towards third states, or
the EU and NATO are considered only as much as they are essential in
achieving the policy goals related to the Republic of Macedonia.

1.1. The Republic of Macedonia

The Macedonian nation and the Macedonian state were created in
the process of implementation and evolution of a well known Serbian
political construction originally proposed in 1889, later supported by
a decision of the Communist International in Moscow in 1934, and
eventually put into effect between 1944 and 1991 in one particular
part of the geographical and historical region of Macedonia (about 36
percent of its territory) known as Vardar Macedonia, included in the
territory of Yugoslavia, and governed by the Yugoslav Communist Party.
This idea proclaimed that the ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia, who had
lived there since the 7th century, had nothing to do with the Bulgarian
state and the Bulgarian nation – a statement that contradicts the
historical interpretation predominantly accepted by historians around
the world. The Macedonist doctrine was enforced in Vardar Macedonia
by methods and means typical of a totalitarian communist regime:
by terror and repression against those who considered themselves
Bulgarian (30,000 executed, and another 120,000 sent to concentration
camps and prisons); by rewriting history through education and the
media; falsifying authentic historical evidence and artefacts; and by
counterfeiting historical monuments (inscriptions in churches and
monasteries, burial grounds etc.).

Such practices persist in various forms in the present Macedonian state.
The reason lies in the model of nation building chosen by the newly
independent Republic of Macedonia in the early 1990s. One of the
available options, which is still current, was to recognize the objective
parameters of this development as they are, i.e. independent statehood
within the borders of the Republic of Macedonia (a joint state of the
ethnic Macedonians and Albanians); changes in ethnic self-awareness
among much of the population of Vardar Macedonia (today’s Republic
of Macedonia) after 1944; the centuries of historical development of
the majority population on the territory comprising today’s Republic of
Macedonia as an integral part of Bulgarian ethnicity; and the Bulgarian
ethnic identity preserved among a certain portion of the population of
the Republic of Macedonia. Regrettably, the political elite of the new
state chose the alternative option of following the Serbo-Yugoslavian,
anti-Bulgarian scheme unaltered, now in a different environment and
to some extent with new protagonists and propagators.

In other words, the consolidation of a distinct Macedonian nation
proceeded in conditions of independence not on the basis of
recognition and appreciation of objective historical evidence, but
rather persisted in falsifying the past, and projecting processes
confined to a particular territory and period of time (Vardar Macedonia
in Yugoslavia, 1944 -1991) into other territories and other times. Given
that the history of the population of the Republic of Macedonia and
that of its neighbouring countries are interrelated, this exercise in
rewriting history (extending back to the Balkan Revival of the 19th
century, the Middle Ages and even to Antiquity), while aimed at
adjusting the historic ethnic identity of the population of the Republic
of Macedonia to its present one, effectively attempts to redefine the
historic – and hence the modern – identity of neighbouring nations,
especially the Bulgarians. This attempt is perceived as outrageous by
the latter.

A new aspect of this old project is that its masterminds and
propagators today comprise not only political and other factions
ideologically and biographically connected to the former Yugoslav
nomenclature, but also their ideological opponents, including
the offspring of families persecuted in the past as Bulgarians or

Subsequently, due to Skopje’s failure to follow a good neighbour
policy, the very name of the Republic of Macedonia began to generate
problems in the traditional use of the name ‘Macedonia’ for other major
areas of the geographical region of the same name, i.e. Bulgarian (Pirin)
Macedonia and Greek (Aegean) Macedonia.

In this respect, the initial credit of trust extended by Bulgaria through its
unconditional recognition of the new state in 1992 was an investment
in good relations between the two countries that was unfortunately
not reciprocated. In hindsight, the early recognition without any
commitment by the new state to adopt standards of good neighbourly
behaviour rather served as an incentive for the continuation of old-style
Yugo-Macedonian policies.

Current bilateral relations are to a large extent disingenuous, with
representatives of Skopje making different statements when visiting
Sofia, when speaking at home, and when addressing third parties. In
view of the strongly divergent public attitudes in Bulgaria and in the
Republic of Macedonia, there is potential for serious deterioration
which should never occur between two European states, let alone
between two present or future EU member states.

Accordingly, in view of the anticipated invitation for the Republic of
Macedonia to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the
pending process of negotiations for the accession of the Republic
of Macedonia to the European Union, Bulgaria must insist on the
following, directly and/or by means of the opportunities provided by
the accession process and by making use of Bulgaria’s status as a full
member state:

1.1.1. Strict compliance by the Republic of Macedonia with the Joint
Declaration of February 22, 1999 that sets the rules governing good
neighbourly relations agreed between Bulgaria and the Republic
of Macedonia, by registering and identifying openly all established
infringements of the provisions of the Declaration. Strict monitoring of
the Republic of Macedonia’s compliance with the Declaration should
become an integral part of the assessment conducted by both Bulgaria
and the EU of the progress achieved by the Republic of Macedonia
in attaining the criteria and standards for EU membership (including
the requirement for strict adherence to a policy of good neighbourly
relations). Similar monitoring should be carried out in the process of
NATO accession.

The reason for focusing the attention of the European Union on the
implementation of the 1999 Declaration is that its infringement creates
serious problems in relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of
Macedonia. It would be unacceptable for these difficulties to persist
after the Republic of Macedonia joins the EU.

Bulgaria should insist that the resolution recommending the opening
of negotiations for the accession of the Republic of Macedonia to
the EU should include an obligation for Skopje to adhere strictly
to the 1999 Joint Declaration. During the negotiations Bulgaria
should regularly submit its assessment of the implementation of the
Declaration to the European Commission, reflecting any failures to
comply with the Declaration in its entirety in the annual reports of
the EC on the progress made by the Republic of Macedonia towards
meeting the membership criteria. Chapters in the negotiations should
then not be opened and/or closed without strict compliance with the
relevant requirements.

Assessments should take into account the actual behaviour of the
Republic of Macedonia rather than its proclaimed good intentions
(with failures to abide by these intentions conveniently attributed to
‘the old forces’, ‘Serbian influence’ etc. It would be naпve to believe
that such declarative intentions are anything other than political
expediency which can be abandoned after the country’s accession to
the EU and NATO).

1.1.2. Harassment of citizens of the Republic of Macedonia who identify
as Bulgarians must be discontinued. Such acts of harassment include
extended police interrogations of citizens of the Republic of Macedonia
who have committed no offence, but have stated somewhere that
they are Bulgarians; arbitrary dismissal; pressure exerted on public
organizations of Bulgarians, etc.

1.1.3. The Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia who clearly identify
as such should enjoy an equal standing with other ethnic communities
in compliance with the relevant national legislation. This requires
their explicit listing in the preamble of the country’s Constitution.
Regardless of their numbers as officially registered in the Republic of
Macedonia, Bulgarians should be included along with the originally
listed Albanians, Turks, Vlachs and Roma, and Serbs and Bosniaks which
were subsequently added.

In this context, it would be appropriate to examine the proposition that
today’s ethnic Macedonians (non-Bulgarians) and the ethnic Bulgarians
in the Republic of Macedonia constitute a single entity and that there is
no difference between them.

This statement is interpreted in two diametrically opposing ways.
Some maintain that this ‘single entity’ consists solely of Macedonians
(non-Bulgarians), while others support the view that all of them are
Bulgarians in some respects, or at least in a process of ‘re-Bulgarization’
as some would claim.

Both these interpretations are seriously flawed, and indeed
unacceptable, as they radically violate the basic principle of ethnic self-
determination: you, and not others, say who you are and, conversely,
you do not tell others who they are. Bulgaria has no other option
but to adhere strictly to this principle, and disassociate from any
interpretations that deviate from it. Given that there are Macedonians
who identify as non-Bulgarians (naturally, we refer only to descendents
of the Macedonian Bulgarians, and not to Albanians, Vlachs, Turks or
other traditional ethnic groups in Vardar Macedonia), one cannot claim
that Macedonians and Bulgarians are one and the same. As far as there
are Macedonians who identify as Bulgarians, one cannot maintain that
‘Macedonian’ is the same as ‘non-Bulgarian’. (While this is perfectly
legitimate in the context of ethnic self-identification by individual
persons or in the realm of the freedom of speech for citizens and
non-governmental circles, such opinions are inadmissible in a national
policy context.)

Both these interpretations are out of step with modern reality. Indeed,
as a result of changes in the Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia during the last six decades, the majority of people of
Bulgarian ancestry in the Republic of Macedonia today identify as
ethnic Macedonians and non-Bulgarians. On the other hand, it is a fact
that part of the population has preserved its Bulgarian ethnic affiliation.
Clearly these two groups cannot form a single ethnic entity as they
differ precisely in their ethnic self-identification. In other words, the
proposition in question is factually untrue. Moreover, the numerical
ratio between the above two groups is considerably in favour of those
identifying as ethnic Macedonians, which means that denying the
difference is tantamount to supporting the cause of anti-Bulgarian
Macedonism, and is thus damaging to Bulgarian interests.

This is why ethnic Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia should not
be placed in a disadvantaged position as compared to other ethnic
minorities in the country, as modern European standards confirm.

Like other activities which protect the interests of ethnic Bulgarian
citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria’s demand for
recognition of the Bulgarian minority by Skopje would be in
compliance with the 1999 Joint Declaration. It is worth mentioning,
however, that in this particular aspect the Declaration is asymmetrical,
explicitly excluding any official action by the Republic of Macedonia
to protect the status of persons in Bulgaria who are not citizens of the
Republic of Macedonia.

As for the possible number of Bulgarians in the Republic of Macedonia,
concerns are expressed that official recognition of the Bulgarian
minority there might reveal its small size. However, regardless of that
size Bulgarian policy should be based on reality rather than wishful
thinking. Bulgaria’s behaviour until now of avoiding the issue of
recognition of the Bulgarian minority in the Republic of Macedonia
has two possible interpretations. The first is that despite the large
number of people (tens of thousands and growing) claiming Bulgarian
ethnic origins in the last few years and granted Bulgarian citizenship
on this basis, there is actually no Bulgarian minority in the Republic of
Macedonia but rather some ‘crypto-Bulgarians’ who would gradually
diminish with the succession of generations. The other interpretation
is based on the assumption that there are indeed Bulgarians in
the Republic of Macedonia but they are more than just a minority;
supporters of this interpretation maintain that there is currently a
widespread process of re-Bulgarization which in the near future will
return the Vardar Macedonians into the mainstream of the historical
continuity inherent to neighbouring Pirin Macedonia. Apparently, such
radically divergent interpretations derive from isolated cases rather
than from objective representative data on actual processes. In any
case, with their referral to assumed future reality, such interpretations
do not contribute to bringing current Bulgarian policies into line with
present-day reality.

Another frequently expressed concern is that the recognition of the
Bulgarian minority would ‘encapsulate’ and isolate it from the larger
category of people in the Republic of Macedonia (over 200,000,
according to some rough expert estimates) who have dual ethnic
self-awareness, identifying both as Bulgarians and Macedonians at the
same time. This concern is groundless. Prominent Bulgarians in the
Republic of Macedonia have repeatedly stressed the need for more
robust and proactive support on the part of Bulgaria. Undoubtedly,
an important element of such support would be to take care of the
Bulgarian minority whose recognition, visible presence, and self-
confidence would also help to strengthen, and not weaken, the
Bulgarian dimension in those who identify both as Macedonian
and Bulgarian. (By way of comparison it is noteworthy that those in
Bulgaria who identify as ethnic Macedonians and non-Bulgarians do
not seem to be concerned about any such ‘encapsulation’ in their
differentiation from the Bulgarians, and their cause is well represented
and publicized internationally.)

1.1.4. Teaching of history using textbooks which thoroughly falsify
history and contain insulting qualifications of the Bulgarian state and
nation, sometimes bordering on open racism, should discontinue.
Bulgaria must insist that the textbooks formally approved by the
relevant authorities of the Republic of Macedonia should contain an
explicit reference to the Bulgarian national affiliation (accepted by
historians) of prominent figures in our common history such as
St. Clement of Ohrid, Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria, the Miladinov Brothers
and Gotse Delchev.

The education system of the Republic of Macedonia, from primary
school to university, is a powerful tool for inciting widespread and
strong anti-Bulgarian attitudes and sentiments by implanting the
image of Bulgaria as an occupying, assimilatory, and divisive power.
Such attitudes and sentiments in turn hold the politics of the Republic
of Macedonia as a permanent hostage regardless of political changes
or the succession of political factions in government.

It is important to stress that the elimination of falsifications and anti-
Bulgarian hate speech in textbooks and in the media will not deprive
the Republic of Macedonia of its raison d'кtre. The state may well
continue to exist on the basis of its accomplishments and present-day
realities without having to project them retrospectively in an effort
to create a past which did not happen; it may continue to exist while
recognizing its Bulgarian historical heritage, just like Bulgaria recognizes
present realities without transferring the past to the present.

1.1.5. Restoration of the destroyed or falsified inscriptions in churches,
monasteries, on icons, frescoes, water fountains, bridges etc. in
accordance with the relevant international standards and agreements.

1.1.6. Assistance in the restoration, or at least removal of the obstacles
to restoration, of the 471 Bulgarian military cemeteries on the territory
of the Republic of Macedonia, a particularly sensitive issue for Bulgaria.

1.2. Albania and Kosovo

The activities of Skopje aimed at affiliating the descendents of the
Macedonian Bulgarians in Greek Macedonia and in some regions
of Albania and Kosovo to the Serb-Yugoslav project of building a
Macedonian nation are a substantial component of the effort to justify
this project retrospectively. Despite the otherwise modest means at its
disposal, the Republic of Macedonia has been investing considerable
propaganda, political and material resources to this end and has thus
achieved certain results.

While few in number, the Bulgarians in Greece, Albania and Kosovo
who have preserved their ethnic identity constitute important
evidence for the history of the geographical region of Macedonia.
Particularly in the context of the integration process of Albania’s
accession to the EU and NATO, the consolidation of Kosovo as an
independent state and its future integration with the EU and NATO,
Bulgaria should accordingly demand the following:

1.2.1. Equality for Bulgarians in Albania with the other ethnic
communities in compliance with state practices and legislation in
this sphere. This means that the Bulgarian minority must be formally
recognized along with the other formally recognized minorities,
regardless of the number of those who identify as Bulgarian.
Recognition of this equality should become an integral part of the
assessments by Bulgaria, the EU and NATO of the progress made by
Albania in meeting EU and NATO membership criteria.

1.2.2. Equality for Bulgarians in Kosovo (regardless of their number)
with the other ethnic groups. This equality should be embedded
in the local practices and legislation in this sphere currently being
established. The progress of Kosovo institutions in this respect must
be taken into account in defining Bulgaria’s position and participation
in the establishment and development of an independent Kosovo;
in due course, these assessments should become an integral part of
assessments by Bulgaria, the EU and NATO of the progress made by
Kosovo in fulfilling EU and NATO membership criteria.

Bulgaria should strengthen its presence among the Bulgarians in
Albania and Kosovo, including by sponsoring joint non-governmental
projects. It should ease procedures for granting Bulgarian citizenship
and university scholarships to individuals of Bulgarian origin, and
should immediately begin negotiations for the formal recognition of
Bulgarian minorities in both countries.

1.3. Greece

The policy and attitudes of Greece are relevant to the issue of good
neighbourly relations between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia
in the context of EU and NATO enlargement in the Western Balkans
for several reasons: Greece was the first Balkan state to become an EU
member; the country played an important role and contributed to
the accession of both Bulgaria and Romania to the EU and NATO; the
territory of Greece includes over half of the geographical region of
Macedonia, according to the definition of that region accepted since
the 19th century (Thessaloniki, the principal city and natural centre
of the region, is also in Greece); furthermore, due to their historical
awareness, Greeks, as indeed Albanians, have a very good idea of
the Bulgarian ethnic identity of the majority population of Vardar
Macedonia in the past, and its evolution during the last few decades.

While the problems of Greece in its bilateral relations with the Republic
of Macedonia are quite different from those faced by Bulgaria, Greece
is no less interested in the Republic of Macedonia adopting European
standards of good neighbourly relations. Bulgaria and Greece may
assist in this respect (including by joint efforts) during the process
of preparation of the Republic of Macedonia for EU and NATO
membership, in particular by means of the following.

1.3.1. In the framework of the European Union, Bulgaria and Greece
could initiate the drafting and enactment of a suitable аcquis
communautaire in the sphere of education aimed at creating common
standards of objectivity in teaching history at school and in academic

As for the descendants of Macedonian Bulgarians living today in
Greece (following several large-scale formal or de facto exchanges
of population between Bulgaria and Greece, the last one after World
War II), a dominant majority of them identify as Greek; some of them
claim that they are ethnic Bulgarians and others identify as ethnic
Macedonians. In line with the relevant Greek legislation (which differs
from those of the Republic of Macedonia and Albania as far as ethnic
minorities are concerned) and the existing agreements forming the
legal basis of bilateral relations between Greece and Bulgaria, minority
issues are not treated as a topic at the level of state relations and are
instead considered as an exercise of specific rights by EU citizens.

In conclusion, as a member of both the EU and NATO, Bulgaria bears
a special responsibility for the development of good neighbourly
relations in the process of European and Atlantic integration of
the Western Balkans, which requires certain decisions and actions.
Following January 1, 2007 there is no justification for any further delay
or abdication from this national responsibility, especially in view of
the considerable political, financial and other resources available to
Bulgaria as an EU and NATO member state with a stable economy and
influential allies and partners. Bulgaria’s preoccupation with reforms
in pursuit of European and Atlantic integration can no longer be used
as an excuse. Failure of the responsible Bulgarian authorities to take
action would be detrimental to Bulgaria’s national interests; such a
failure would tolerate, endorse, and effectively foster anti-Bulgarian
Macedonism with its stereotypes and practices rooted in the past,
which have no place in the Euro-Atlantic family of nations.

2. Action Plan

2.1. Framework

The practical implementation of the proposed new Bulgarian policies
on the Republic of Macedonia requires the development and adoption
of an action plan with a clearly defined framework specifying the

2.1.1. The instruments for pursuing Bulgaria’s policy (institutions such
as ministries, state agencies, municipalities and embassies, research
units, lobbyists, politicians etc.);

2.1.2. Particular steps to be undertaken in order to attain the specific
objectives set out above;

2.1.3. The form, in which Bulgarian statesmen and politicians should
publicly articulate the damage caused by the policy of the Republic
of Macedonia and reiterate Bulgaria’s demand for maintaining good
neighbourly relations during their visits to the Republic of Macedonia
or at international fora;

2.1.4. The political and financial resources to be invested in lobbying
for international support, and for launching an open and vigorous
campaign against the negative propaganda in the Republic of

2.1.5. Prioritization of the objectives above in accordance with the
resources required for their attainment and their importance for
changing the widespread negative attitudes among the citizens of the
Republic of Macedonia.

2.2. Activities

The proposed fundamentals of Bulgaria’s policy on the Republic of
Macedonia require a thorough review of the whole spectrum of
Bulgaria’s foreign relations, with the ‘Bulgaria – Republic of Macedonia’
dimension addressed in the spirit of this report:

2.2.1. Firstly, Bulgaria should prepare a package of historical, cultural,
political, geographical, ethnographical, economic and other arguments
in support of the propositions outlined above. The package would
be used as the foundation of Bulgaria’s position in its foreign relations.
There are ample prerequisites for this purpose, both from the period
before and after 1989. The package should be dominated by a positive
attitude to the Republic of Macedonia, based on the understanding
that a recently-established state has prospects for development based
on its constructive deeds and achievements following independence
without seeking support in some fictional past.

2.2.2. This Bulgarian package should be well balanced with the
consistent policy of Athens of protecting Greek interests against the
lack of good neighbourly policies maintained by the Republic of
Macedonia. In this way, the consolidated impact would be cooperative
towards Skopje, and cumulative and coordinated in nature. With
regard to Greece, Bulgaria must stress the lengthy and painful transition
of the country during which the national political potential was
dedicated to achieving the priority goals of NATO and EU membership
as a reason for the hitherto passive Bulgarian stance towards the
Republic of Macedonia. Cooperation with Greece needs no specific
base other than the regional responsibilities of both states as EU and
NATO members and the application of European standards in relation
to Skopje. Nevertheless, Bulgaria’s position regarding the Republic of
Macedonia would be stronger and more principled if Bulgaria extends
its support to Skopje in the event that Greek claims towards Skopje
diverge from European standards. The international community
and the general public in the three states should not harbour the
impression that the set of foreign policy tools used by Bulgaria with
regard to the Republic of Macedonia replicate those of Greece.

2.2.3. Sixteen years after the recognition of the Republic of Macedonia
by Bulgaria, the time has come for the latter to emerge from its
paternalistic attitudes towards the smaller neighbouring country and
to reiterate Bulgaria’s unconditional position that Sofia, being a NATO
and an EU member, has no territorial claims.

2.2.4. The integration of the Western Balkans into the EU and NATO
should become a key concept of Bulgarian diplomacy as grounds for
the affiliation to the Bulgarian nation of Bulgarians in the Republic of
Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo by means of achieving the
required standards related to national and ethnic minorities in the EU.

2.2.5. The proposed Bulgarian activities should be preceded by a critical
analysis of the 1999 Joint Declaration and its application, along with
the development of Bulgaria’s own comprehensive concept for the
future of its relations with the Republic of Macedonia and its people.
The above should be carried out in accordance with the expectations
and prospects for ethical and positive relations with the Republic of
Macedonia as a future member state of the EU and NATO. This requires
comprehensive and methodical coordination of Bulgarian positions
with the USA and other NATO and EU allies, starting with the most
important, and in the event of positive responses, proceeding with the
more special cases of Greece and other relevant Balkan states such as
Romania, Cyprus, Slovenia and Turkey. Due attention should be paid
to countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic
(and to a certain extent Russia), where politicians and academics have
provided some support to the Yugoslav position on the Macedonian
issue. Approaches should be tailored to each country with which
Bulgaria maintains diplomatic relations, in order to promote Bulgaria’s

2.2.6. Bulgaria’s case should be promoted in the European media
as widely as possible, including the use of well known examples
such as Germany and Austria, or Romania and Moldova, where the
creation of new nations on the basis of independent statehood is not
accompanied by Macedonian-style negativism.

2.2.7. Ongoing pressure should be exerted with regard to specific
cases at international human rights institutions, including by non-
governmental organizations active on the issue.

2.2.8. A detailed fact file should document and present the longstanding
activities of Skopje in obstructing the development of
constructive bilateral relations despite Bulgaria’s goodwill.

2.2.9. The particular events and developments which prompted
Bulgaria to assume its critical position towards the Republic of
Macedonia should be clearly explained.

2.2.10. It would be helpful to expose the links and contacts of
prominent members of the Republic of Macedonia’s elite who have
been active in undermining bilateral relations with Bulgaria, with the
secret services of the former Milošević regime, and with the present
anti-democratic factions in Serbia.

2.2.11. Under its obligations as a donor country participating in the
UN Millennium Development Goals campaign, Bulgaria has decided
to concentrate its efforts and resources in several priority countries,
including the Republic of Macedonia. In an aid programme expected
to amount to 0.17% of the Gross Domestic Product in 2010 and 0.33%
in 2015, Bulgaria should develop a special programme providing
the Republic of Macedonia with useful know-how, assistance and
partnership in the sphere of reforms and European and Atlantic
integration. The Bulgarian non-governmental sector, local authorities,
state administration and business sector have accumulated much
valuable experience in preparation for EU and NATO accession, which
is relevant for a country like the Republic of Macedonia and some
other states in the Western Balkans. Such assistance would represent
a strategic investment in good neighbourly relations, and it would be
regrettable if its provision were to be left to other countries.

2.2.12. All available opportunities existing within the common EU
visa policy should be used to facilitate the access of the citizens of
the Republic of Macedonia to Bulgaria; at a minimum, the relevant
Bulgarian regulations and procedures should be at least as liberal as the
Greek ones. Transborder contacts and border area cooperation would
benefit from the opening of more border crossings.

2.2.13. Conditions should be created to maintain and extend
opportunities for students from the Republic of Macedonia to study at
Bulgarian colleges and universities and suitable forms should be found
to maintain further contacts between and with them, both as a natural
Bulgarian lobby group in their home country and as welcome potential
participants in the increasingly attractive Bulgarian labour market.

2.2.14. Administrative capacity should be developed to facilitate and
accelerate procedures for obtaining Bulgarian citizenship, with the
overall duration of the procedures shortened from years to months.
Bulgaria is on the verge of a new stage in its social, economic, and
demographic development and an important aspect of this will be
mass immigration. Spurred by the needs of an expanding Bulgarian
economy, immigration is set to grow, whether spontaneously or
managed by proactive Bulgarian policies to attract and integrate
immigrants. Bulgarian citizens in the Republic of Macedonia represent
a significant resource in this respect. Furthermore, the fact that
Bulgarian citizenship has been granted to a now substantial and
growing number of people in the Republic of Macedonia provides
grounds under international law for Bulgaria to intervene to protect
their rights and interests.

2.2.15. The activities of the Bulgarian Culture and Information Centre
in Skopje should be expanded by investing the effort and resources
needed to promote Bulgarian culture and policies in the Republic of
Macedonia. Bulgarian culture and information centres should also be
established in Tirana and Prishtina.

2.2.16. Incentives should be provided for the Bulgarian nongovernmental
and business sectors to establish partnership relations
with citizens of the Republic of Macedonia in their local Bulgarian
cultural and educational initiatives (such as the creation of Bulgarian
libraries or chitalishta, clubs etc.) in various cities, towns and villages in
the country.

2.2.17. Prominent cultural, political and media leaders of the Bulgarian
community in the Republic of Macedonia should be supported and
assistance provided to promote their work in both countries.

2.2.18. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church should be asked to contribute
in the spirit of its historical traditions and capabilities to bringing the
two nations closer together.

2.2.19. The issue of registration of the OMO Ilinden political party in
Bulgaria has undoubtedly become one of the major irritants in bilateral
relations in recent years. Both Skopje and human rights organizations
like the Helsinki Committee have internationalized the issue to the
detriment of Bulgaria. The refusal to register OMO Ilinden is likely to
become increasingly difficult to defend, particularly after the future
accession of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO and EU. While the
case is mostly legal in nature, the Bulgarian position and the Bulgarian
cause would undoubtedly benefit if a solution to this issue were found
sooner rather than later.

2.2.20. Regardless of the policies pursued by the governments
of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, certain independent
intellectuals, media and civil groups have been promoting ideas that
have nothing in common with good neighbourly relations. Such local
factors are capable of influencing public opinion, forming attitudes
towards the neighbour and sometimes even exerting political
influence. The power of the most radical of these stems from the fact
that they usually have no opponents on their respective domestic
grounds. Their ideas are disseminated as a monologue; there is no
dialogue, no polemics, no clash of factual evidence, no arguments nor
interpretations. The worst aspect of this situation is that the general
public in both countries is not well informed about the motivation,
the history and the arguments of the other side. Bulgaria should
initiate a variety of high-profile forums and debates on all disputed
cultural and historical issues, with wide media coverage, to take place
both in Bulgaria and in the Republic of Macedonia in order to achieve
openness, goodwill and a better appreciation of the other side.

Developing Bulgaria’s policy on the Republic of Macedonia to rise to
current challenges – and it would be an act of national irresponsibility
to miss the present historic opportunity to do so – requires the
Bulgarian public, media and relevant official institutions to be
adequately prepared to provide the favourable conditions for success.

The present recommendations have been developed

under the guidance
of Sen. Res. Assoc. Dr. Lyubomir Ivanov,
Institute of Mathematics and Informatics,
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS);
President of the Manfred Wörner Foundation;
Chairman of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria

With the participation and the contribution of:

Dr. Zoya Andonova, Editor, Bulgaria Macedonia Journal
Amb. Petar Atanasov
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Stoyan Barakov, Faculty of Law and History, Southwest
University Neophite Rilski, Blagoevgrad
Amb. Dr. Bobi Bobev
Prof. D.Sc. Georgi Daskalov, Faculty of History, Sofia University St.
Kliment Ohridski
Sen. Res. Assoc. Dr. Angel Dimitrov, Institute of History, BAS
Prof. Dr. Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director, National Museum of History, Sofia
Amb. Evgeniy Ekov
Sen. Res. Assoc. D.Sc. Svertlozar Eldarov, Institute for Balkan Studies, BAS
Dr. Zhivko Georgiev, Director of Strategic Studies, Manfred Wörner
Sen. Res. Assoc. D.Sc. Stefan Hadjitodorov, Scientific Secretary, BAS
Velyo Iliev, Mayor of the City of Petrich, Bulgarian (Pirin) Macedonia
Zornitsa Ilieva, Chief Expert, National Assembly
Amb. Nikolay Kolev
Acad. Konstantin Kossev, Vice-President, BAS
Marin Milanov, Expert on European Integration
Iliya Mitov, Political Analyst
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Plamen Pantev, Director, Institute for Security and
International Studies, Sofia; Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, Sofia University
St. Kliment Ohridski
Dr. Georgi Papakochev, Political Analyst
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Anton Parvanov, International Relations Department,
University of National and World Economy, Sofia
Alexander Popov, Chief Expert, Ministry of Education and Science
Amb. Dr. Valeri Ratchev
Nadezhda Stoyanova, Programme Director, Manfred Wörner
Valentin Tekelov, Expert on the Western Balkans
Martin Traykov, Expert on the Western Balkans
and others.

Submitted to the attention

of the relevant Bulgarian institutions

on January 24, 2008


of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria

and of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Prime Minister of
the Republic of Macedonia,

Proceeding from a common aspiration to promote the goodneighbourly
relations between the two countries,

Profoundly convinced of the need of promotion of cooperation
on the basis of mutual respect, confidence, understanding,
good-neighbourliness and mutual respect for the interests of their
countries and peoples,

Convinced of the need to enhance security and peace, cooperation
and confidence in Southeastern Europe,

Proceeding from the aspirations of the two countries to
integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures,

Believing that constructive dialogue on all aspects of bilateral
relations, as well as on regional and international problems, will
contribute to a further development of contacts between the two
countries on a basis of equality,

Respecting the principles of the UN Charter and the OSCE
documents, as well as the democratic principles enshrined in the acts
of the Council of Europe,

1. Express their readiness and common desire for promotion
of relations between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of
Macedonia in all spheres. These relations shall develop in compliance
with the fundamental principles of international law.

2. The two countries shall co-operate within the framework of
the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Europe, the Council of Europe, NATO’s Partnership for Peace Initiative,
the Multinational Peace Force Southeastern Europe, and other
international organisations and forums.

3. The two countries shall contribute to the promotion
of co-operation among the states of Southeastern Europe, to the
enhancement of understanding, peace and stability in the region and
to the implementation of regional projects as part of the process of
establishing a united Europe.

4. The two countries shall maintain contacts and hold
meetings between representatives of the government authorities at
different levels for the promotion of friendly relations and co-operation.

5. Considering their geographic proximity, the two countries
shall seek to establish the appropriate legal, economic, financial and
trade conditions for an unimpeded movement of goods, services and
capital. They shall promote reciprocal investments and ensure their

6. The two countries shall support the broadening of tourist
exchange, as well as the pursuit of suitable forms of co-operation in the
field of tourism.

7. The two countries shall extend and upgrade transport
links and communications between each other, inter alia within the
framework of regional infrastructure projects.

They shall seek to ease customs and border formalities for
passengers and goods moving between the two countries.

8. The two countries shall encourage active and unimpeded
co-operation in the field of culture, education, healthcare, social welfare
and sports.

9. The two countries shall make efforts for free dissemination
of information by encouraging and promoting co-operation in the field
of the press, radio and television broadcasts, using the capabilities of
modern communication media.

The two countries commit themselves to protect the
copyrights and intellectual rights of creative artists in the two countries.

10. The two countries shall expand their co-operation in
the legal and consular sphere and, in particular, on civil, criminal and
administrative issues, with a view to facilitating travel and visits of their
citizens as well as addressing their humanitarian and social problems.

11. Neither of the two countries shall undertake, instigate
or support any actions of a hostile nature directed against the other

Neither of the two countries shall allow its territory to be used
against the other by any organisations or groups which make it their
object to carry out subversive, separatist or other actions threatening
the peace and security of the other country.

The two countries do not have, and will not lay, any territorial
claims to each other.

The Republic of Macedonia hereby declares that nothing in
its Constitution can or should be interpreted as constituting, now or
whenever in the future, a basis for interference in the internal affairs
of the Republic of Bulgaria for the purpose of defending the status
and the rights of persons who are not citizens of the Republic of

The two countries shall undertake effective measures for
preventing ill-intentioned propaganda by institutions and agencies
and shall not allow activities by private individuals aimed at instigating
violence, hatred or other such actions which might harm relations
between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia.

Signed on 22 February 1999 in Sofia, in two originals, each
in the official languages of the two countries - in Bulgarian language,
according to the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, and in
Macedonian language, according to the Constitution of the Republic of
Macedonia, both texts being equally authentic.

FOR THE REPUBLIC                          FOR THE REPUBLIC
OF BULGARIA:                                  OF MACEDONIA:

IVAN KOSTOV                                   LJUBČO GEORGIEVSKI
Prime Minister                                    Prime Minister

ж   The 1999 Joint Declaration was reaffirmed by a joint memorandum signed
     by Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia on January 22, 2008 in Sofia.


Kraste Misirkov (1874 -1926), proclaimed as the most important personality of
the 20th century for the Republic of Macedonia:

[Тhe Ilinden Uprising] has been ill-founded from the very beginning:
it does not relate to Macedonia as a whole, it is fragmentary and
has a Bulgarian flavour. Its leaders consist only of Macedonian Slavs
identifying as Bulgarians ...

It was, and still is, an affair of the Exarchists who glorify themselves as
‘Bulgarians’; it is therefore a Bulgarian manoeuvre aiming to resolve
the Macedonian question in Bulgaria’s favour; it is intended to create a
Bulgarian Macedonia. (On Macedonian Matters, 1903)

If good fortune had left Simeon and Samuel to reign for a long time,
under the authority of the Bulgarian state ... and let these Bulgarian
Tsars unite the Southern Slavs politically and culturally ...

The lands populated by Bulgarian people were a cradle of Slavonic
Enlightment in the old times; Serbian and Russian people drew
spiritual nourishment from here for centuries. The Bulgarian nation
has been of great cultural and historical service to the Slavonic World ...
(Macedono-Adrianopolitan Review, Issue 34 -35, 1907)

Whether we call ourselves Bulgarians or Macedonians, we always
identify as a distinct and unified people with Bulgarian national
awareness, completely different from Serbs. (20 July Newspaper,
May 11, 1924)

Ljubčo Georgievski, Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia (1998 -2002):

It is nothing new to mention the fact that Gotse Delchev, Dame Gruev,
Gyorche Petrov and Pere Toshev – do I have to list all of them – were
teachers with the Bulgarian Exarchate in Macedonia ... [Gotse] returned
to Macedonia as a Bulgarian Exarchist teacher, incidentally teaching
children Bulgarian as their mother tongue.

Wherever they wrote about their mother tongue, or about the reforms
of this language, Parthenius of Zograf, Kiril Peychinovich, Theodosius of
Sinai, the Miladinov Brothers, Grigor Parlichev, Kuzman Shapkarev and
Marko Tsepenkov (and how many more?!) always referred to it as the
Bulgarian language. (Pulse Weekly, June 7 and 14, 1995)


with the kind support
National Museum of History in Sofia
Bobokov Bros. Foundation
Science and High Technologies Foundation
Nikolai Gigov
Rumen Ivanov
Stefan Lazarov
Petar Mandzhukov

Kancho Stoychev



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Authors: Lyubomir Ivanov et al.
Design: Todor Vardjiev
Prepress: Double T
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